SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: October 29, 2015

Attack Types: Other

Institution(s):Ewha Womans University

Region & Country:Eastern Asia | South Korea

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On October 29, 2015, plainclothes police officers prevented nonviolent student protesters from approaching an auditorium building on the campus of Ewha Womans University, a private women’s university in South Korea, where President Park Geun-hye was scheduled to speak, resulting in a confrontation.
President Park Geun-hye had been invited to the University to speak at the National Women’s Symposium. The protesters carried signs and chanted slogans alleging that President Park’s administration had harmed women’s rights, and threatens academic freedom through a recently approved plan to require that all public middle- and high school students use history textbooks sanctioned by the government. As the protesters approached the entrance to the auditorium where President Park was scheduled to speak, they were reportedly confronted by rows of plainclothes officers. Additional students joined the protest, leading to a confrontation in which officers reportedly pushed students to the ground and dragged others from the premises.  Ultimately, the officers prevented the students from moving forward until President Park left the premises.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about state attempts to prevent, obstruct or otherwise limit nonviolent, academic or political expression or freedom of association on campus – conduct which is expressly protected under international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. State authorities have a responsibility not to interfere with such activities, so long as they are undertaken peacefully and responsibly. State actions limiting the rights to free academic expression or association on campus have a chilling effect on academic freedom and university autonomy, and undermine democratic society generally.